We've all been there: you have a quick look in the mirror, start to pull out and suddenly a bike or car appears from nowhere, having been hidden in the blind spot.

Now an American professor has patented a rear view mirror which, it is claimed, solves the problem.

Currently, driver's wing mirrors tend to be flat, as curved mirrors distort the image and give a false sense of distance. However, flat mirrors give a very narrow field of vision. Now Drexel University mathematics professor Andrew Hicks, has told industry website, www.just-auto.com that he has invented a mirror that increases the field of view with minimal distortion.

Hicks' driver's side mirror provides a field of view of about 45 degrees, compared to around 16 degrees for a conventional driver's side mirror, with barely any detectable distortion.

Ironically, car manufacturers in the USA are banned from using the invention, as the law states curved mirrors can only be used for the passenger side. Even then, they must have a notice saying "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear." – as per the scene in Jurassic Park where the car is chased by a dinosaur, and the driver reads that scary reminder as he nervously scans the mirror.

However, there is a big potential market for people retro-fitting the mirrors in the US, and using them as standard in other countries. It is certainly cheaper than the electronic Blind Spot Detection systems now becoming available.